The return of thrift?

Lovely review by Tom over at Infovore about the book Cradle to Cradle: remaking the way we make things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. As Tom explains:

It’s a book that invites the reader to envisage a world in which the concept of waste does not exist, and where re-use is preferred to recycling; in short, a world where products have a true life-cycle, rather than a passage from cradle-to-grave.

This way of thinking used to be summarised as ‘thrift’ (defn: careful and diligent in the use of resources) and reminded me of several articles I’ve read recently querying whether thrift was making a come back – as exemplified by this Telegraph article.

I decided to see if Google Trends data backed up this notion.

Although the data for the UK isn’t large enough to compare the terms ‘thrift’, ‘re-use’ and ‘recycle’ against one another, there are enough frequencies of these terms globally to get Google’s attention:

Google Trends data for re-cycle, thrift, re-use

As you can see the blue line graphing the word ‘thrift’, is fairly stable, the lines displaying the search frequencies for ‘recycling’ and, more interestingly, the word ‘re-use’ have increased, but not that dramatically.

But take a look at the lower graph. It displays the frequency of the topics appearing in news items, and there you’ll see a distinct upward trend for both the terms ‘thrift’ and ‘re-cycle’, although the term ‘re-cycle’ is increasing more rapidly.

Unfortunately, as the data set is not large enough to display regional differences we cannot come to any definite conclusions, but if the vision of Cradle to Cradle is to be realised it would appear that there is much work to be done.